4221.0 - Schools, Australia, 2009  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/07/2010  Reissue
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1 This publication contains statistics on government and non-government schools, students and staff as at August 2009.

2 These statistics were obtained from the annual non-finance National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC) which is a collaborative arrangement between state, territory and Australian Government education authorities and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The NSSC uses a set of concepts, definitions and classifications developed jointly by these agencies. These concepts and definitions are compiled in the Notes, Instructions and Tabulations document available on request from the ABS. For more detailed information about the structure and scope of the NSSC refer to the Glossary.


3 The statistics in this publication relate to establishments which have, as their major activity, the administration and/or provision of full-time day primary, secondary or special education, or primary or secondary distance education. Major activity is based on the activity of students or, where this is not appropriate, for example in administrative offices, on the activity of staff. Therefore, the statistics presented do not include establishments, students or staff engaged in school level education conducted by other institutions, in particular Technical and Further Education (TAFE) establishments.

4 Statistics for the government series relate to all establishments administered by the departments of education under the directors-general of education (or equivalent) in each state and territory, students attending those establishments, and all staff engaged in the administration or provision of government school education at those establishments. Statistics for the non-government series relate to all in-scope establishments not administered by the departments of education in these states and territories.

5 Emergency and relief teaching staff who are employed on a casual basis are not included in this collection, as they replace permanent teaching staff who are absent for short periods of time and are already counted.

6 Education services in Jervis Bay Territory are provided by the Australian Capital Territory Department of Education and Training, through Australian government funding. For the purposes of the NSSC, figures for Jervis Bay Territory are included in statistics for the Australian Capital Territory.


7 In 2009, improvements were made to the students enrolment data collection process for government schools in the Northern Territory. This enabled better identification of duplicate student records, which were removed. This change will affect comparisons with previous years, of all data showing numbers of students or drawing on these numbers, for the Northern Territory and Australia.

8 In addition, Tasmanian education underwent a significant restructure of post-year 10 education in 2009. This reform, entitled Tasmania Tomorrow, created three new statutory organisations (called the Tasmanian Academy, the Tasmanian Polytechnic and the Tasmanian Skills Institute) from the merger of state government colleges (years 11 and 12) and TAFE Tasmania. In 2009 four of Tasmania's eight government colleges, along with TAFE Tasmania, were restructured and brought under the authority of the Tasmanian Academy and the Tasmanian Polytechnic. The four remaining colleges continued under the authority of the Tasmanian Department of Education (TDE) and will transition to the new structure by 2012. Census data from the Tasmanian Polytechnic and the Tasmanian Academy were combined with TDE data to provide the NSSC submission for Tasmanian government schools. TDE undertook a process of data collection, cleaning, reconciliation and application of scope to ensure that the data provided to the NSSC fully complied with collection definitions.

9 The Western Australian Department of Education and Training advised of two changes to the structure of Western Australian schooling from 2002. Pre-year 1 was extended to five days a week, bringing these students within the scope of the NSSC. The other change was to the age at which children may commence Pre-year 1. Prior to 2002, children were eligible to attend Pre-year 1 in Western Australia if they turned five any time during the year. In 2002, only those who had turned five by 30 June 2002 were eligible for Pre-year 1. This resulted in a half cohort entering the school system in 2002. In 2009, this half cohort is in Year 7. In 2006 the leaving age was raised to 16 and in 2008 this was further amended to 17 years OR in alternative training OR in approved employment.

10 The Western Australian Department of Education and Training also advised that, from 2003, the majority of students in a small number of Western Australian colleges are no longer in the scope of the NSSC and have been classified as belonging to the vocational education and training sector. The removal of these students in 2003 to 2008 has affected a number of series. It has, for example, contributed to a fall in apparent retention rates in Western Australia when compared with earlier years.

11 The Queensland Department of Education, Training and the Arts advised of a change to the structure of Queensland schooling from 2007. A year of formal Pre-year 1 schooling, called a Preparatory year, has been introduced following successful trials in a small number of schools over the previous 4 years. In 2007, only a half cohort was enrolled in Pre-year 1. The 2008 data shows around 95% of the expected cohort attended Pre-year 1, while the half cohort from 2007 were now in Year 1.

12 In 2009, changes to the processing of Northern Territory enrolment data will affect comparisons with previous years of all numbers drawing on student data for the Northern Territory. See Explanatory notes, paragraph 7, for further details.

13 Changes in the admissions policy for Tasmanian schools in 1993, resulted in an upward change in the age profile of students commencing school in that year, and subsequent years, relative to the years prior to 1993. The changed age profile moved progressively through the grades, and, from 2005 onwards, represented as a significant increase in the participation rate of 18 year olds.


14 The census date for the collection, for all states and territories, is the first Friday in August each year. For 2009, this was 7 August. The age reference date was 1 July for all states and territories.


15 The statistics were compiled from collections conducted in cooperation with the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA), by state and territory departments of education (government series), and by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) (non-government series).

16 The methodologies employed in compiling the government sector aggregates, on which the statistics in this publication are based, vary between the different state and territory departments of education. They range from accessing central administrative records to direct collection of data from establishments.

17 DEEWR collects data directly from establishments in the non-government sector for all states and territories. The non-government sector statistics in this publication are a summary of results from that collection.


18 Tables 1, 2, 3 and 4 include counts of the number of schools in a time series format. The number of schools in a particular year can be affected by structural change in the composition of schooling rather than necessarily a change in the number of sites delivering full-time school education. For example, if several schools amalgamated into one large and complex multi-campus school or if a primary school and a secondary school combined into one school, the statistics would show a decrease in the number of schools.


19 In interpreting the figures in this publication, users should be aware that comparability of statistics between states and territories and between government and non-government schools in any one state or territory is affected by differences in the organisation of grades, policy on student intake and advancement, flows from secondary to vocational education, and the recruitment and employment of teachers. Similarly, the relatively small populations in some states and territories can promote apparently large movements in rates and ratios, which may be based on relatively small movements in absolute numbers.

20 There is no Australia-wide standard method of allocating students and classes to a certain year or grade of school education. A number of schools (other than special schools) do not maintain a formal grade structure. Students at these schools have been allocated to equivalent grades where possible by relevant education authorities, but otherwise appear against the ungraded category in either the primary or secondary level of school education.

21 This publication uses Estimated Resident Population (ERP) data in the calculation of school participation rates, which is preliminary data due to the timing of release of both the Schools and ERP data. The school participation rates series is revised every five years using final data, after intercensal adjustments have been made to the ERP following the quinqennial ABS Census of Population and Housing.

22 NOTE: Non-participation in school education cannot be accurately derived for any state or territory by the subtraction of school participation rates from 100%. Population data is estimated, and is based on usual residence within a defined state or territory boundary, while school data may include students who cross those boundaries to attend school.


23 To calculate the apparent retention rate of full-time students at the Australia level, the total number of full-time students in Year 12 in 2009 is divided by the number of full-time students in the base year, which is Year 7 in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory in 2004 and Year 8 in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory in 2005 (since those years represent the commencement of the secondary school system in the respective state or territory). The resultant figure is converted to a percentage.

24 NOTE: The change to the structure of schooling in the Northern Territory in 2008 will not begin to affect the calculation of apparent retention rates until the 2008 Year 7 students enter Year 9 in 2010. See Explanatory notes paragraph 12 for further details.

25 Care should be exercised in the interpretation of apparent retention rates as the method of calculation does not take into account a range of factors. At the Australia level these include students repeating a year of education, migration and other net changes to the school population. At lower levels of disaggregation, additional factors affecting the data, such as enrolment policies (which contribute to different age/grade structures between states and territories), inter-sector transfer and interstate movements of students, cannot be taken into account.

26 Particularly in small jurisdictions, relatively small changes in student numbers can create apparently large movements in retention rates. In addition, the rates in the smaller jurisdictions may be noticeably affected by changes in such factors as the proportion of ungraded and/or mature aged students from year to year. The inclusion or exclusion of part-time students can also have a significant effect on apparent retention rates, particularly in South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory which have relatively large proportions of part-time students.


27 School participation rates measure of the number of school students of a particular age at the NSSC census date, expressed as a proportion of the Estimated Resident Population (ERP) of the same age at 30 June of the same year.

28 In some jurisdictions, such as the Australian Capital Territory, some rates exceed 100%. This is mainly due to the enrolment of secondary school students in Australian Capital Territory secondary schools who are not residents of the Australian Capital Territory, but live in surrounding New South Wales regions. Some school students are also not Australian residents. Students from overseas who enter Australia on a short-term visa (less than 12 months) are not considered Australian residents for ERP, although they are counted in the NSSC. The effect of these students is likely to be negligible.


29 Apparent continuation rates (ACRs) measure the proportion of a population age cohort participating in school education in a base year (e.g. 2009), compared with the same age cohort that were participating in school education the year previously (e.g. 2008). Put more simply, the school participation rate of a population age cohort in one year is expressed as a percentage of the school participation rate of the same population age cohort in the previous year. Unlike apparent retention rates, ACRs include both full-time and part-time students, and take changes in the underlying population into consideration.

30 In calculating the ACR for the sum of a variable (such as ‘sex’ or ‘jurisdiction’), weights have been introduced to allow for the different proportions that each component item contributes to the total. For example, an ACR for 'Australia' is produced by weighting the proportion of students in each state/territory in the overall composition of ‘Australia’. For example, if students in jurisdiction A comprise 24% of all students in Australia in a given cohort, and students in jurisdiction B comprise only 2.4% of the same cohort, then the ACR of jurisdiction A students will be weighted 10 times more heavily than the ACR of jurisdiction B students when it comes to averaging each jurisdiction’s ACR to calculate the ‘Australia’ total.

31 The interpretation of apparent continuation rates is also affected (to a lesser extent) by the same range of factors that are unaccounted for in the apparent retention rates series (see paragraphs 25 and 26).


32 Apparent progression rates (APRs) are a measure of the proportion of a grade cohort of full-time students who progress to the next grade between one school census and the next.

33 When producing an APR for the sum of an item, such as 'Persons' or 'Australia', weights have been introduced to allow for the different levels that each component item contributes to the total.

34 The interpretation of apparent progression rates is also affected (to a lesser extent) by the same range of factors that are unaccounted for in the apparent retention rates series (see paragraphs 25 and 26).

35 Investigations by the ABS suggest that, by tracking the annual APRs for cohorts of students from grade 8 to grade 12, it is possible to derive superior measures of Apparent Retention Rates. The ABS intends to publish the results of these investigations later in 2010.


36 The formulae used for the calculation of School Participation Rates, Apparent Continuation Rates and Apparent Progression Rates (labelled Apparent Grade Progression Rates in the paper) are available in the Research Paper: Deriving Measures of Engagement in Secondary Education from the National Schools Statistics Collection (cat. no. 1351.0.55.016) published in December 2006.


37 FTE student/teaching staff ratios are calculated by dividing the number of FTE students by the number of FTE teaching staff. Student/teaching staff ratios should not be used as a measure of class size. They do not take account of teacher aides and other non-teaching staff who may also assist in the delivery of school education.


38 Other ABS publications which may be of interest to users are:

39 Additional information can be found in publications produced by ABS offices in each state and territory, various publications of DEEWR, MCEECDYA, the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, the education chapter of the annual Report on Government Services, and in annual reports of the state and territory departments of education.

40 The National Centre for Education and Training Statistics (NCETS) has a theme page on the ABS web site for the dissemination of information on education and training: <http://www.abs.gov.au/ncets>.

41 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products (cat. no. 1101.0). The catalogue is available from any ABS office or the ABS web site <http://www.abs.gov.au>. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site which details products to be released in the week ahead.